What is the best age to toilet train?

Use this age-by-stage guide to potty training.
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Learning how to use the toilet is a major milestone for toddlers and for you too, as you prepare to say goodbye to nappies.

Toilet-training can be messy and it calls for loads of patience and encouragement.

Here’s our guide to choosing the right time to ditch nappies as well as some tips from real mums who have been there already.

12-18 months

Successful toilet training so young is unlikely for most children, but you can start to familiarise your baby with the potty by having one at home for her to play with, and by letting her watch you go to the toilet.

18-24 months

A few children are dry before two, but they’re in the minority. Encourage her with nappy- free time, so she knows when she is weeing, and put her on the potty regularly. Don’t expect her to perform, but praise her when she does.

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24-36 months

Most toddlers become potty-trained during their third year but boys often start later than girls. Look for readiness, such as telling you when she needs wee or poo, having a dry nappy for several hours and showing an interest in the potty.

Three years and up

Toddlers often wet themselves at night long after becoming dry by day. Persuading her to get back into a nappy at bedtime can be struggle, so try pull-ups at night. Around 20% of children still wet the bed at the age of five, so don’t panic if night-time dryness is slow in coming.

Watch for readiness

Keep an eye out for these signs your child may be ready for toilet training:

  • They shows an interest when you use the bathroom

  • They are aware of the fact they are about to go

  • A wet or dirty nappy annoys them

  • They have bowel movements at a similar time each day

Most toddlers become potty-trained during their third year but boys often start later than girls.

(Image: Getty Images)

Mums share their top tips

“Wait until your child is ready – don’t force it. When they show signs, go straight to undies, be firm and stick to a routine. Keep asking, taking them to the toilet, giving them lots of praise and a reward system.”

– Michelle Murray

“Perseverance overcomes all difficulties!”

– Valma Rae Stidworthy

“I found having spare undies, wipes and clothes in the toilet were handy for quickly changing my two-year-old daughter without fuss when we had accidents. And we had a rewards chart with stickers and little milestones. Also patience, patience and more patience.”

– Melissa Todorovski

“Don’t start until you’re both ready and committed, because it’s not a clean or easy journey. When you’re ready to start, jump in headfirst, with no hesitation. The best way I find is cold turkey – no nappies or pull-up nappies until night-time.”

– Doris Limnos

“My two girls were both three when they were ready. In one week, we were essentially done and they’ve never wet the bed! Patience is key.”

– Rebecca Heyer

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